Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts

Sunday, 7 April 2013


by Colin Bloom

On Good Friday, a friend of mine went to the service station to fill his wife's car up with fuel. He'd just squeezed in the last drop, the tank was trimmed to the brim and he was feeling pleased with himself at this act of marital kindness. His satisfaction was short lived, because as he looked down he saw he was holding a green unleaded petrol nozzle. His wife's car is a what Ringo Starr would call a Diseasal.

It cost my friend nearly £300 to get his mistake fixed. It would have cost him a great deal more if he had attempted to drive the car away. It could have been terminal. For the car that is; his marriage would probably have survived.

This little story made me think about the sort of fuel we put into ourselves. It reminded me of the Old Testament Israelite character Daniel. He was a Royal or a Noble from the  tribe of Judah and along with his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego he was dragooned into the Babylonian King's court, where he eventually became the highest ranking Official across the land.

The first thing we are told about Daniel and his friends is that they were extraordinarily discriminating about what they fuelled themselves with. During their early training, Daniel refused to eat the fine foods and wine from the King's table, but rather chose a simple, rather plain, vegetarian diet. The only drink they took, we are told, was water. Perhaps unsurprisingly these four young men ended up looking healthier, fitter, stronger and more productive than the cohort they came with.

What does this have to say to us? What can we learn from Daniel's rather picky diet?

For me, the lesson isn't actually about food, it's about culture. It's about the cultural fuel we nourish ourselves with. Our four friends allowed themselves to be culturally assimilated into Babylonian life in almost every way; these Israelites allowed their names to be changed, they changed their language and the clothes they wore. They became very much part of the culture of their age, but in so doing they did not defile themselves by what they filled their tanks with. They were deliberate about what they took into themselves.

So should we be. We need to be careful not to defile ourselves with what we take in; what we furnish our minds with. If we fill our eyes, ears and minds with the wrong fuel isn't that the same as my friend filling his wife's car with the wrong fuel? We might get as far as the end of the road, but it would be slow, smelly and we might not make it much further.

So if we want to be like Daniel, we need to be extraordinarily discriminating about what we fuel our lives with too.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


Rudyard Kipling

For me this is one of the most uplifting, rhythmic and memorable works of poetry ever written. 


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling